Theater Review: “A Bright New Boise”
A lonely man with a dark past tries to start a new life by reuniting the son he gave up for adoption, in Samuel D. Hunter’s “A Bright New Boise” directed by Morrie Piersol. Firehouse Theatre has transformed their stage into the break room of a Hobby Lobby for this emotional and often funny play about faith, family, and the craft business.
Billy Christopher Maupin plays evangelical Will, who is trying to cultivate a relationship with his son Alex, played by Nate Smith who works at the Hobby Lobby where Will has just been hired. Maupin’s performance is impressive and convincing as Will. Maupin conveys the dichotomy of Will’s strong faith and his feelings of hopelessness expertly. Smith has talent beyond his years and handled the emotional role very well.
Manager Pauline, played by Jill Bari Steinberg, constantly has to keep the peace around the Lobby especially after the arrival of Will causes some tension among the other employees. Pauline curses like a sailor and is obviously annoyed with having to implement “conflict resolution” management techniques to keep her store running. Steinberg was great as the crew’s no-nonsense leader and her tiffs with Alex’s brother Leroy, played by Jacob Pennington, were hilarious.
Leroy often challenges Will’s intentions towards his little brother and is definitely the most confrontational with Will about his past as a part of what many in Boise consider a religious cult. Pennington played the role of malcontented employee well and it is very clear how important the wellbeing of his little brother is to him.
The most impressive performance for me was that of Audra Honacker’s as Anna, a co-worker of Will and Alex’s. Anna is fascinated by Will and is determined to bring him out of his shell. Honacker’s portrayal of Anna is hilarious and quirky, with great energy in her voice and actions.
David L. McLain’s set is impressive and has an authentic feeling to it that anyone who has worked in a big box retail store, will recognize. Robert Perry’s lighting serves to separate the scenes, which was interesting, but did cause the audience to applaud after every scene. Firehouse went out on a limb with “Boise” and it served them well.
“A Bright New Boise” is playing through October 13 at Firehouse Theatre Company. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.firehousetheatre.org.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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